PERKASIE, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- A newly-approved Pennridge School District policy says students can only use the bathroom of their biological sex.
Board members approved the decision Wednesday night in a 7-1 vote.
For the past couple of years, the district has been debating over everything from Diversity, Equity and Inclusion education to LGBTQ issues. Those debates have spilled over into school board meetings, and Wednesday night was no different as the meeting had to be paused for 45 minutes.
"If you don't stop, security is going to come in," one school board member stated as a warning to a resident who'd stood up to comment on an issue.
The resident was seeking to give public comment on a previously-approved contract with Vermillion Education, which is a recently-established consulting firm. Critics say it's a right-wing organization and the district's decision to contract with them to develop curriculum was rushed.
The resident who was commenting in opposition to the contract was warned that her comments were not part of the current agenda for which public comment is reserved.
But the Vermillion Education contract is not even the issue the school board members voted on Wednesday night. The board members approved Policy 720, which states students and staff can only use the bathroom or locker room that correlates with their biological sex.
"I agree. I agree with it for sure," said Sara McIlvein of Pennridge.
"I think everybody has the right to use the bathroom that they choose to," said Mayce Lee, a senior at Pennridge High School.
The new bathroom policy also states that Pennridge schools will provide single-use facilities to be used by students and staff regardless of sex or gender identity.
"It's like just go where you go. If you're a girl, go to the girl's room. If you're a guy, go to the guy's room. And they have the gender-neutral bathrooms if you want them," said Ethan Sommer, who graduated from the school last year.
"With kids, you should use whatever bathroom you feel like using. And to be honest, the school has been closing bathrooms for the past couple months," said Gianna Healy who is a senior.
Debates have been ongoing in the district for a couple of years.
Board members paused the DEI curriculum in 2021, and in 2022 they approved a policy that forbids teachers from engaging in advocacy. Critics say the move was meant to silence minority and LGBTQ voices.
Pennridge resident Jennifer Decker can relate to the differences of opinion because it's one she experiences in her own home.
"I have a child that's bisexual," she said. "We have a difference of opinions and I just tell her I love her and support her no matter what."
Pennridge School District sent a statement to Action News. It reads in part: "In regards to the exchanges at last night's meeting on all matters, we welcome and encourage our students, staff, and entire community to be an active voice in all Pennridge School District decisions. At the same time, we ask them to be respectful and courteous during the meetings, but utilize the public comment section of the meeting to have their voices heard by anyone present at the meeting."